Three Wisconsin groups have been selected to receive Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These projects are to develop and refine cutting-edge technologies that will help farmers protect natural resources on their operations.
"Conservation Innovation Grants can help build the bridge from new technology to the farm for natural resource conservation," said Tom Krapf, Acting State Conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). "These grants will ultimately result in placing innovative solutions in the hands of our producers, which benefits agriculture and the environment."
The three Wisconsin projects to receive funding are:
• University of Wisconsin, $184,165, for “Demonstrating Innovative Manure Separation and Precision Ag Technologies to Optimize Nutrient Manure Utilization and Reduce Environmental Concerns.” The main goal of this project is to evaluate the economic and environmental costs and benefits of using innovative manure separation and precision ag technologies.
• Wisconsin Dairy Business Association (DBA), $100,000, for Green Tier Advancement Project. The DBA will assist dairy producers who participate in the Green Tier Charter in implementing an Environmental Management System. The project seeks to change attitudes, change behavior, and ultimately change the dairy business climate in Wisconsin.
• InterTribal Bison Cooperative, $425,787, for Grassland Restoration and Bison Management on American Indian Lands. The InterTribal Bison Cooperative has 57 member tribes in 18 states. The Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin will host one of five pilot projects in the nation to restore bison to tribal lands. The pilot project will be in Grant County on tribal lands.
“Manure separation provides liquid and solid manure fractions with nutrient profiles that can provide more flexibility to better meet crop needs and reduce water quality risk, as well as reduce application costs,” says Tom Cox, UW Madison Professor of Agriculture and Applied Economics. “Precision ag technologies provide opportunities to better apply optimal amounts of manure nutrients to improve both economic and environmental performance.”
“The Dairy Business Association’s Green Tier Advancement Project is the first voluntary program in the nation that will encourage agriculturalists to go above and beyond compliance with environmental standards,” notes Laurie Fischer, DBA Executive Director. “Over the next two years, we expect to see improvements in environmental protection, enhancement and conservation as a result of developing, implementing and evaluating environmental management systems (EMS) on several Wisconsin dairies.”
Grantees provide matching funds bringing the total value of the approved projects to more than $28.4 million nationally. CIG targets innovative, on-the-ground conservation, including pilot projects and field demonstrations. Grants go to state and local governments, tribes, non-governmental organizations and individuals.
USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) administers CIG, which is part of the Agency's Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). NRCS provides technical oversight for each project. Grantees provide technical assistance required to successfully complete their projects.
CIG funding was awarded through a nationwide competitive grants process. NRCS received applications from every state, Caribbean Area (Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands) and Pacific Islands Area (Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands).
Applicants submitted 193 CIG project proposals, requesting $70.7 million in grants. CIG funds for direct or indirect payments to individuals or entities to implement structural, vegetative or management practices are subject to EQIP's statutory payment limitation.